Boiler Operator

Boiler engineering challenged the faculties; spirit soul and body. We had to stay sharp, sober, and watchful; at the same time, we tried to dodge anger, resentment and bitterness. As the last five years plodded onward, steam plant reeked negligence. Budgetary frugality inhibited any real maintenance, and with this stance came the digression. No longer were all six boilers ever in operation, no longer was the coal of adequate BTU’s. Warning whistles and flashing lights functioned accurately less and less, as the steam output meter registered just above warning.

Folks know what a rake is because of their yard or garden. Our rakes, 40 pounds of tempered steel, measured eight feet from hand to claw. With these we made coal burn and effected tubes full of treated water to sometimes find evaporation; sometimes even steam. Thermostats that regulated water level in the tube–fed drums were often gummed up or broken. In addition, stoker chains fell off, water bottles clouded, and coal dust settled in your coffee.

These were the days of boiling veins, reacting emotions, and vile vocabulary development. The audacity of management to ask us to produce through hard labor what once was produced through well-managed systems, described our feelings. What eventually came was bitter and sweet; the mill shut down. “Sweet” soothed the rambunctious feelings, while “bitter” took us to the unemployment office.

I look back on those days as an ending and yet the beginning. They were the end of safety, a good reputation, and a decent living. They were the beginning of recognizing a need for God, and a need to go beyond what came naturally in physical labor. I had to discover talents as of yet unfounded.

See, He that has begun a good work in us, will start doing it, and one day, in cooperation, we change. The inside work cannot be denied, and not like the steel management, it never stops. Yes, I had found the Lord, halfway through my steel mill experience. It was then I discovered His continual investment and God’s revenues are infinite. There is no digression in His plan, as He aims to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.

The outward man does perish, the inward is renewed day by day. God never quits on any of us. I don’t know about you but I function better knowing He is there. Eventually His wisdom is all I want and though we may have to wait, it’s worth it all. 

Wisdom is associated with Meekness, as James puts it, and meekness is associated with the plan of God. We gain it as Christians by waiting and watching for Him. Eventually we see God’s hand behind all the events of our lives. When we discern his presence, we find His wisdom.

In closing, an intimacy develops as we begin to see His perfect answers, unmanlike, nevertheless, exactly what is needed. His wisdom fits my need like a glove, and no earthly substitute can do that. Thank you, Lord, for loving me so closely and caring about my little things. Yes, I am truly a basket case, often embarrassed to ask for help, but not from You. Love ya



  1. pbmw2 said:

    Who is that a picture of Tom? Someone in your family? I read this with great reflection: my Dad was a milkman in the day when you left your empties out on the steps. He would leave the house by 3:30am each day. I never saw him leaving for school. Yet he would never be late for supper. There we met the man, the husband to my mother, the provider for our home, the Father to me and my brother. Never heard a complaint or gripe as he, virtually every Saturday, would fix us biscuits or pancakes for breakfast. Strong arms, I remember, picking us up till we were (at least my brother!) were as tall as he. Moments woven in the fabric of our hearts; not a man of many words, but a man of his word. The great generation, the depression, the second world war, the civil rights movement, all together made this man – foibles and failings, the person I honor as my Dad. My prayer is that I may be such a blessing to my family and children.

    October 31, 2013
  2. tsliva said:

    Thanks for the comment; the man in the picture was a friend that I worked with who died shortly after the mill closed.. His name was John Brown. I Agree that his generation was the great one.. My father also was a part of it. He cut meat and never missed work, He planted a garden of 40 rows and tuned his own car, and changed the oil. Took care of Mom and us three, worked longer to put us in a good school. I too pray for the same.

    November 3, 2013

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